Must Listen, New Music: Week 4

My must-listen list of music containing an album, EPs and singles all released between May 16th and 22nd.


Snoop Dogg- “I Wanna Go Outside” (single)

Snoop Dogg has come to our rescue with a vibe of a track as we’re cooped up in our houses. Though most of the lyrics outline various negative aspects of living in quarantine lockdown under stay at home orders, “I Wanna Go Outside” is about as upbeat as I think a song can be in times like this. Just as Snoop says, we’d all rather be “out there in the streets in my hood, in the beach, feelin’ good.” BUT “Tha Doggfather” goes on to give us some wisdom “it’s better to be safe than sorry” because “ain’t no need to rush.”

[ ℗ 2020 Doggystyle Records / EMPIRE. ]

Matt Berninger- “Serpentine Prison” (single)

Known as the frontman for the indie rock Grammy-winning band, The National, Matt Berninger released “Serpentine Prison” as his first solo record, and the title track for his upcoming solo album. The ‘prison’ Berninger is referring to in the song is his own mind because while “everyone’s screamin’,” he’s “been daydreamin’.” As the world feels as if it’s crumbling around him using words like “deterioration”, he feels “total frustration” and “total submission”. As he sees people acting out of “cold cynicism”, he tries “not to listen”. In order to escape his ‘serpentine prison,’ he needs “…a vacation from intoxication” with the intoxicants being the negative world headlines and selfish people surrounding him, and all of us.

[ ℗ 2020 Matt Berninger., under exclusive license to Concord Records. Distributed by Concord. ]

Gracie Abrams- “Long Sleeves” (single)

With “Long Sleeves”, 20 year old singer-songwriter Gracie Abrams places deep emphasis on the vocals and the lyrics expressing the need to distance herself from someone she can no longer love. Behind the impressive vocals, there is an ambient synth until a sudden transition happens where she switches to very intimate acoustics. Halfway through the second verse, the two sounds combine for a symphonic feel. In an impressive fashion, the pattern and path of these distinct sounds behind the vocals follow the progression of the separation occurring in the lyrics. The somewhat eerie and steady synth alone occurs as she is sneaking out to separate herself from the other person as she sings “I wanna be alone. Hate it that no one knows you’re good to everyone, all of them, but me, all of them but me”. The volume and tone heighten, breaking the steadiness, as she addresses the possibility of the other person hearing her sneak out, but steadies once again as she emphasizes that “it’s been a long time coming” repeatedly. The intimate acoustics kick in as she addresses the ignorant bliss she experienced as the other person would “say something sweet” but “it never meant a thing” to them. Then, the steady synth and acoustics pair to emphasize that she isn’t able to love them even if she wanted to. With Abrams’ impressive ability to match the sound and structure of the song to the soul of the message, this is one of the most beautiful and vulnerable songs about love that I’ve heard this year. “Long Sleeves” is part of Abrams’ first project set to release June 16th.

[ ℗ 2020 Gracie Abrams, under exclusive license to Interscope Records. ]

Petit Biscuit, Shallou- “I Leave Again” (single)

The production and emotional progression of this track are incredible, especially when paired with the smooth vocals provided by Shallou. As solo artists, both Petit Biscuit and Shallou have remarkable sounds and combined their delicacy to release an ambient, melodic track that will leave you longing and sulking deep in your emotions. The relaxed ambience and longing vocals make you want to float away and the crushing lyrics break your heart. “I Leave Again” is desperately trying to recall happy past memories with a love in your life but ultimately saying that final and dreaded goodbye. “I feel the weight, of what we were. I delete all, put thoughts on hold. I try to feel you.”

[ ℗ 2020 Ecurie. ]

HAIM- Don’t Wanna (EP)

The sister trio HAIM is consistently blessing us with unique sounds, paying special attention to the details of each track. Don’t Wanna is the trio’s 2nd EP (following Forever EP in 2013), and have released two studio albums Days Are Gone (2013) and Something To Tell You (2017). Though I’ve had tracks like “Want You Back” and “Right Now” on repeat since 2017, boy, did I miss these incomparable harmonies. The trio harmonizes the extremely unique standout vocals of Danielle Haim (lead vocals, guitar) with unique higher- pitched vocals of youngest sister Alana Haim (vocals, guitar, keyboard) and the steady low-toned vocals of eldest sister Este Haim (bass guitar, vocals) to create some of the most distinct harmonies of any other group. HAIM’s signature sound is the type that makes you want to dance around your home in your socks using a beer bottle as a microphone. They manage to achieve this even in slower tempos which is rare to hear and harder to do. On Don’t Wanna, you hear their signature sound (“Don’t Wanna”), a folk grassroots flare (“The Steps”), an indie pop vibe (“Now I’m In It”), a jazzier set (“Summer Girl”), and an acoustic ballad (“Hallelujah”).

[ ℗ 2020 Haim Productions Inc. under exclusive license to Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music Entertainment. ]

The 1975- Notes On A Conditional Form (album)

The 1975’s highly anticipated 4th album is finally here and marks what the band is referring to as ‘the end of an era.’ The beloved English pop rock band has already teased fans with 8 songs pre-released as singles off the album, but the full compilation of 22 songs arrived on March 22nd. With topics ranging from environmentalism (“The 1975”), resenting your social environment (“The Birthday Party”), the oppression of young people {more specifically, young gays} (“Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America”), affirmative long-lasting love (“Me & You Together Song”), online intimacy (“If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)”), the bond of friendship (“Guys”), to letting your guard down and trusting your loved ones (“Don’t Worry”), this album has a bit of everything. It’s a comprehensively unique album articulated in a way that only The 1975 is capable of creating. Ultimately, the album is pretty strange in the best way possible.

[ ℗ 2020 Dirty Hit, under exclusive license to Polydor Records and Interscope Records. ]

BRELAND- BRELAND (EP)

BRELAND, an up-and-coming 24-year old singer/rapper, freely and smoothly combines sounds of country, hip-hop, and R&B while implementing both urban and rural themes into his lyrics. For his debut breakout single “My Truck” of the album, he uses lyrical themes more commonly found in country music alongside sounds that are common to trap music. For “In The Woulds”, he features big name country musical artists Chase Rice and Lauren Alaina for a more pop country sound with hip-hop sparks. And for “Wifi”, he takes a more R&B approach with some country influence. And it doesn’t stop there. According to his Spotify “About” page, BRELAND makes his vision clear: “I don’t subscribe to rules. I’ll make whatever I like. I’m trying to innovate…I’m fusing a lot of separate styles. I want to have a place on the cutting edge.”

[ ℗ 2020 Bad Realm Records and Atlantic Recording Corporation. ]

Genevieve Stokes- “Lonely and Bored” (single)

Being only 18 years old, up-and-coming singer-songwriter Genevieve Stokes is making music well beyond her years with songs like “Lonely and Bored.” Despite Stokes having written the song a year ago according to an interview with Ones To Watch, the release of this particular tracks seems incredibly timely considering how deeply it relates to the quarantine situation happening around the world. However, this particular song about loneliness and boredom stretches far beyond just the current state of the world. The root of the song is about feeling outside of ourselves, completely detached from our own emotions, and not being able to control what comes next. She sings “I feel so separate from myself…time just keeps on moving faster. We can’t control what happens after.” “Lonely and Bored” is the title track for her upcoming EP expected later this summer.

[ ℗ 2020 Genevieve Stokes. ]

BabyJake- “MadHappySad” (single)

Singer-songwriting BabyJake brings smoothly distinct vocals while he blurs genre lines. With “MadHappySad”, he combines influences of alternative and classic rock with a signature pop sound. According to BabyJake in an interview with Music Times, the song’s “about the feelings that come up when you’re with someone who’s probably not the right person for you, and they just make you feel all these emotions at the the same time. MadHappySad.” He’s putting in all of this effort for someone who won’t reciprocate (“I was giving her all she asked and more. I fell in love, but she wouldn’t”) until he finally walks away (“…I’m gone. Goodnight, goodbye, you’re on your own”). Considering he ended 2019 with over 25 million streams for his first singles (“Confidant”, “Blue Cellophane”, “239”, and “Cigarettes on Patios”), BabyJake is expected to have a big year.

[ ℗ 2020 SRV LabelCo, LLC. ]

Grace Potter, Jackson Browne, Marcus King, Lucius- “Eachother” (single)

Grace Potter and company bless us with an uplifting quarantine-based track making use of a slower tempo with beautiful guitar melodies to coney a very timely and critical message: “for now we’ve got each other.” As difficult as lockdown and social isolation are, we can find comfort knowing that we’re not alone.

[ ℗ 2020 DEP Productions, Inc., under exclusive license to Fantasy Records. Distributed by Concord. ]

Honorable Mentions

R3HAB, HRVY- “Be Okay” (single)

Phoebe Bridges- “I See You” (single)

Spencer Barnett- “Welcome to My Mind” (single)

Neon Trees- “New Best Friend” (single)

Nightly- “you should probably just hang up” (single)

Dagny- Strangers / Lovers (EP)

Ellie Goulding- “Power” (single)

Midnight Kids, 90’s Kids- “Bad For You” (single)

UMI- “Open Up” (single)

Kygo, Valerie Broussard- “The Truth” (single)

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